Preliminary analysis of the mitochondrial genome evolutionary pattern in primates

Liang Zhao, Xingtao Zhang, Xingkui Tao, Weiwei Wang, Ming Li
Zoological Research   unpublished
Since the birth of molecular evolutionary analysis, primates have been a central focus of study and mitochondrial DNA is well suited to these endeavors because of its unique features. Surprisingly, to date no comprehensive evaluation of the nucleotide substitution patterns has been conducted on the mitochondrial genome of primates. Here, we analyzed the evolutionary patterns and evaluated selection and recombination in the mitochondrial genomes of 44 Primates species downloaded from GenBank.
more » ... results revealed that a strong rate heterogeneity occurred among sites and genes in all comparisons. Likewise, an obvious decline in primate nucleotide diversity was noted in the subunit rRNAs and tRNAs as compared to the protein-coding genes. Within 13 protein-coding genes, the pattern of nonsynonymous divergence was similar to that of overall nucleotide divergence, while synonymous changes differed only for individual genes, indicating that the rate heterogeneity may result from the rate of change at nonsynonymous sites. Codon usage analysis revealed that there was intermediate codon usage bias in primate protein-coding genes, and supported the idea that GC mutation pressure might determine codon usage and that positive selection is not the driving force for the codon usage bias. Neutrality tests using site-specific positive selection from a Bayesian framework indicated no sites were under positive selection for any gene, consistent with near neutrality. Recombination tests based on the pairwise homoplasy test statistic supported complete linkage even for much older divergent primate species. Thus, with the exception of rate heterogeneity among mitochondrial genes, evaluating the validity assumed complete linkage and selective neutrality in primates prior to phylogenetic or phylogeographic analysis seems unnecessary.